Place-Rituals

Originally published in Theory of Flight (1935)

TRADITION OF THIS ACRE
This is the word our lips caress, our teeth bite
on the pale spongy fruit of this, the name :
mouthing the story, cowlike in dignity, and spitting it
in the tarnished cuspidor of present days.
And if there were radium in Plymouth Rock, they would not strike it
(bruising the fair stone), nor gawk at Semiramis on Main Street
nor measure the gentle Christ in terms of horse-power.
Cracked bells are severally struck at noon.
The furrow of their ways will cradle us all.
Amen, amen, to the ritual of our habit, fall
before the repetitions in the lips of doom.

RITUAL OF BLESSING
The proud colors and brittle cloths, the supple smoke rising,
the metal symbols precious to our dreams
loftily borne. Thy Kingdom come.
We have blessed the fields with speech.
There are alp-passes in the travelled mind
(they have stood in the quiet air, making signs on the sky
to bless the cities of the shining plain).
The climate of the mind is the warmth of a shrine
and the air torn with incense. World without end.
How can we bless this place : by the sweet horns,
the vaulted words, the pastoral lovers in the waist-deep grass,
remembrances linking back, hands raised like strict flames pointing,
the feet of priests tracking the smooth earth,
many hands binding corn : ? Thy Kingdom come.
There are pale steeples erect among the green,
blood falling before the eyes of love the lids fire-bright,
hands together in the fields, the born and unborn children,
and the wish for new blessing and the given blessing blend,
a glory clear in the man-tracks, in the blind
seeking for warmth in the climates of the mind.
World without end.
Amen.

 
 

(c) Muriel Rukeyser

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